Select one of the keywords
The Midnight Guardian: A Millennial Novel    by Sarah Jane Stratford order for
Midnight Guardian
by Sarah Jane Stratford
Order:  USA  Can
St. Martin's, 2010 (2009)
Hardcover, Softcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Sarah Jane Stratford's historical fantasy, The Midnight Guardian (first in a new Millennial series) takes a similar approach to the recent movie Inglourious Basterds, except that this book sticks closer to history in that the (vampiric) infiltrators of Nazi Germany don't have the same success against Hitler.

In the Millennial world, vampires live alongside humans, feeding off them like the predators they are, but otherwise fairly benevolent towards them. In fact Stratford's hunters of the night still enjoy aspects of human culture like plays, poetry and music, feel something like patriotism towards their country of origin, and perform a kind of natural selection by eliminating the least likeable and/or most foolish humans. She postulates that vampires who survive a thousand years to become Millennials are stronger in most ways and need to feed less often.

The Midnight Guardian begins in 1936 and then skips (confusingly at times) back and forth between 1938 and 1940. Hitler's Third Reich is eradicating what it considers to be tainted bloodlines - Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, the mentally impaired and vampires. They have trained and used special vampire hunters, the Nachtspeere, to take out Germany's undead. Though unaware of the extent of this European culling, London's ancient Tribunal of vampires is unhappy with the damage that World War I did to the quantity and quality of its food supply, and want to stop World War II.

They send five of their most powerful (i.e. Millenial) vampires to Berlin to undermine the Reich - our heroine Brigit, who has an anger management problem and desperately misses the love of her undead life, Eamon (who is not a Millennial); her good friends Mors (the ancient warrior) and Cleland (who also misses his partner); and humorless Millennial couple Swefred and Meaghan. The book opens on Brigit traveling by train from Berlin to Basel with a precious cargo, watched closely by ruthless Doctor Schultze and his minions, who clearly know what she is.

The author then takes readers back in time to show what happened in Berlin to lead up to this point (and also reveals Brigit's and Eamon's back stories and the development of their romance). In Berlin, each Millennial gets close to someone in power and seeks information as well as opportunities for sabotage. But it's much harder than they expected and, in 'their final attempt to shake at the foundations of the Nazi establishment', they walk into a trap. The survivors separate and Brigit takes on a duty she had not foreseen, one that imperils her.

The Midnight Guardian is an absorbing start to a new vampire series that is sure to attract many fans of the genre. The leads are appealing, while the Millennial twist gives them powers that reduce the usual vulnerabilities (they can even handle small amounts of sunlight). That and the historical context makes for entertaining reading.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Fantasy books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews